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Originally Published Jan 22, 2013 17:02
By Ad Crable
Staff Writer

An Upper Leacock farmer fed up with birds of prey killing his free-range chickens has been charged with shooting an immature bald eagle.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission charged Paul A. Zook, 28, of the 100 block of Geist Road with two misdemeanors of the state Game and Wildlife Code.

One count is for killing an endangered or threatened species and one count is for unlawful taking and possession of protected birds.

Zook, an Amish farmer, could face up to two years in jail and fines up to $5,000 if found guilty and depending on the feelings of the judge. In addition, a judge could require Zook to pay up to $5,000 to "replace" the eagle.

A preliminary hearing on the charges is scheduled Jan. 31 before District Judge Denise Commins of Leola.

Bald eagles are listed as a threatened species in Pennsylvania and are protected. Their comeback has been a rousing success in the state and Lancaster County has one of the highest concentrations in the Commonwealth.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the Game Commission, Zook readily admitted to shooting the eagle, thinking it was a hawk that was preying on his chickens.

Zook told investigating officers that he had previously shot at least three red-tailed hawks, according to the complaint filed by Derek Daly, then a wildlife conservation officer covering Lancaster County.

Hawks also are a protected species in Pennsylvania, though they are not listed as threatened or endangered.

The case began Nov. 23 when two rabbit hunters called the Game Commission and said they had found a dead eagle in a hole in the ground near Geist Road and Hartman Station Road.

Two investigating wildlife conservation officers examined the eagle and found a bullet hole in its breast.

They drove it to the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square for a necropsy. Results showed that a fatal small-caliber bullet had entered the raptor's spine and exited its breast.

The examination also turned up evidence that the bird had been shot in the knee previously.

Game Commission officers started checking surrounding farms. The third farm was Zook's.

Zook confirmed for officers that he had chickens outdoors and that he had problems with hawks killing them, according to the criminal complaint.

Daly "then asked him what he was doing about it and he said that he was shooting the hawks," the complaint said.

When a deputy wildlife conservation officer asked Zook when was the last time he shot one, Zook "said prior to killing the most recent hawk, he had shot at least three other red-tailed hawks."

In response to a question, Zook said the most recent bird he had shot seemed to be a different type of hawk, according to the complaint.

Daly said Zook then signed a statement admitting to shooting the eagle and took the officers to where he had shot and the location of the eagle when he shot.

Officers seized Zook's .22 rifle and a box of ammunition as evidence.

From the edge of extinction, restoration of bald eagles here and across Pennsylvania has been celebrated by most people.

As recently as 1980, there were only three pairs of nesting eagles in Pennsylvania. In 2011, there were 217 nesting pairs.

The same week that Zook allegedly shot the eagle, a birdwatcher counted 40 bald eagles in trees near Strasburg.

Lancaster County, with the Susquehanna River for nesting sites and availability of food on farmland, has one of the highest concentrations in the state.

For the first time, there are rumblings that marauding by the national symbol is becoming a nuisance for some local Plain sect farmers.

Incidents of livestock raiding by eagles and misgivings of farmers will be explored in detail in the Outdoors section in this week's Sunday News.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local...l#ixzz2IkiRAXJt
 

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Not pro-Amish at all due to life experiences, and not for wiping out wildlife at all, but a logical question does come to mind - at what point do eagles, hawks and other birds of prey become not endangered/protected?? When they exceed the prey species and we have a population crash of some sort?? After we pay millions in restitution for loss of livestock to farmers and loss of pets to homeowners, like out West so we can know there are wild wolves out there, and we cut down on hunting opportunities????? 40 eagles in one area in SE PA??? Really??? I'm sure we're not there yet in most places in North America, but when is it too much?? And I present the question rhetorically if needed.
 

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I also think there are to many predators out there. Reason we have no small game With mo means of controll they will definitly get out of hand. Why is it ok to shoot a coyote or fox for killing livestock but not birds of pray??
 

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coalman said:
I also think there are to many predators out there. Reason we have no small game With mo means of controll they will definitly get out of hand. Why is it ok to shoot a coyote or fox for killing livestock but not birds of pray??

1. Birds of prey fall under the Migratory bird treaty, and thus are afforded Federal protection, Coyote's are not.
2. Small game decline is directly tied to habitat loss.
3. Prey controls predator population, not the other way around. Wildlife Management 101
 

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"Small game decline is directly tied to habitat loss."


Explain why small game numbers are way down in rural Clarion, Venango and Forest Counties?



lemme guess the standard PGC response: "Deer"
 

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holedigger, I don't think that farmers or poultry keepers are paid any restitution, as far as I know if that hawk or whatever bird eats your poultry or livestock you are just out of luck. If a farmer gets his chicken eaten, that he was going to use to feed his family a meal for supper, then I guess that the poor human family is just suppose to go without. Many farmers suffer like this everyday. It also drives up the chicken price at local farm markets for free range poultry. I think that maybe the farmers and everyone else suffering losses to avain predators should be paid for their losses.
 

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cmc5028, Sounds like you already know the answer, hawks and owls of course, and as stated prey controls predator numbers. That is why birds of prey migrate, they clean an area out of prey and move on or migrate. Or sometimes they find a farmer and stick around and eat his chickens for a while.
 

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bpottorff said:
cmc5028, Sounds like you already know the answer, hawks and owls of course, and as stated prey controls predator numbers.
That is why birds of prey migrate, they clean an area out of prey and move on or migrate
. Or sometimes they find a farmer and stick around and eat his chickens for a while.
Your explanation of birds of prey migration is EXACTLY why we need to leave wildlife management to professionals.
 

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You have a lot to learn.
 

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R.W.J said:
2. Small game decline is directly tied to habitat loss.
3. Prey controls predator population, not the other way around. Wildlife Management 101
Opinions derived from real-life experience and decades of observation may vary.
 

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heres a real life observation. theres more turkeys now than ever before. predators don't like turkeys? how about geese?
 

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Strut10 said:
R.W.J said:
2. Small game decline is directly tied to habitat loss.
3. Prey controls predator population, not the other way around. Wildlife Management 101
Opinions derived from real-life experience and decades of observation may vary.
they are not opinions. its fact. Just because you dont understand basic Wildlife Management , doesnt make it wrong, And buying a hunting license doest make you a biologist////
 

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yellodog said:
heres a real life observation. theres more turkeys now than ever before. predators don't like turkeys? how about geese?
Selective predation...lol
 
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